Ultraphallus, Sowberry Hagan

On Riot Season records, Liege, Belgium’s Ultraphallus’ Sowberry Hagan comes out January 24 and is…

…something…

…you should pick the motherfuck up.

Ultraquick version: an experimental cross between Sloath and Portishead.

Less quick version: it’s got “typical” Riot Season production, like Sloath: a lot of bleed between tracks, making a single lumbering, massive doom metal sound, rather than several tracks overlaid each other. Frankly, it’s a sound I really enjoy, and one that sounds great whether at (my fave) jet engine volume, or through good headphones. It’s an organic monster– the Swamp Thing coming into your ears (literally?).

Track shortlists:

The Red Print: includes the (almost certainly improvised) vocals by Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson, in a remixed ambient-rock track, all the while managing to sound like a metal version of Leon Thompson and his work with Pharoah Sanders. Soooo nice.

Torches of Freedom: ambient, noise: spoken word about Bush administration… The Loss of Their Teeth is beautiful, almost lullaby-like; Golden Fame is riffy and introspective, and most easily encapsulates how Ultraphallus hits: a doom metal Portishead….

The Crumbled is banjos and birdsong (did I mention Ultraphallus were experimental? See this link about Eric Dolphy and birdsong… it sorta hits at where they’re coming from, baby)….

Cinghiale includes increasing tape hiss and saxophone, and seems to me to be the perfect cross betweeen the love of “sound” and the love of Doom (like Preslav Literary School)…

Indians Love Rain: brooding, complex, mysterious (and does the title make more sense in Belgian French…?).

Right Models and River Jude are easily the most rocking tracks of the album, like a slow rock version of Kylesa’s Scapegoat… or a combination of the Descendents and Sloath meets L7….

Album opener, Pathological Freemind Verse is (intentionally or not) an homage to Merzbow, all noise and intent….

Ultraphallus rocked a shitton of new sonorities: banjos, alto and soprano saxophones, noises and samples and field recordings– as much as someone as abstract as Eric Dolphy– and blends them all into a stew of sound, so much so that I, who plays soprano, alto and tenor sax, couldn’t tell which sax was which.

Maybe that’s the most apt description of Sowberry Hagan: an attempt to blend, without regard for the listener, pretty much every genre that comes into their minds….

The album title is a Mark Twain reference, and an obscure one at that: it’s referenced once in Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 6, (about a man renowned for his cursing).

Musically! …Myriad elements: doom, ambient, noise, sampled sounds, Kate Bush, Swans, death metal, Portishead, crushingly heavy alternative….

Engineering! …Overall what I’m calling a “dusty” sound: Sowberry Hagan was “remixed with low frequencies,” including sub-mixed samples, hidden noise, and other Interesting Sonic Oddities….

Overall? The haiku* review?

Oppressive
Scary and reassuring
Like warm grave soil

8/10


Riot Season records

Ultraphallus Myspace

*I know this is not Haiku form.

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